Foreclosure Event Draws 500 Homeowners Trying to Save Their Homes

February 24th, 2011
Genelle Sims meets with counselor Eric Jennings at the free foreclosure fair

“My mortgage is behind and I won’t want to lose my home,” said Genelle Sims, 61, as she met with foreclosure counselor Eric Jennings.

Eric is one of our foreclosure intervention specialists who staffed the Southwest Solutions station at a free event that drew about 500 people at risk of losing their homes. The event took place at the Masonic Temple in Detroit last Friday (2/18/11). It was organized by the Regional Foreclosure Intervention and Neighborhood Stabilization Collaborative (FINSC).

Certified foreclosure counselors from 12 local agencies as well as many home loan lenders were on hand to provide free, one-on-one assistance to struggling homeowners from southeast Michigan.

The foreclosure rate in metro Detroit remains high and is more than two and a half times the national average. In the first month of this year, there were 4,465 new foreclosure cases in Wayne County alone, according to RealtyTrac.

“The turnout at this event and the data about foreclosure cases show that foreclosure remains a critical issue, distressing homeowners, putting downward pressure on property values, and destabilizing neighborhoods,” said Hector Hernandez, director of our Housing Opportunity Center, where our foreclosure counseling program is located. “Even as the crisis continues, federal funding for foreclosure counseling is endangered, which will only worsen the situation.”

Genelle bought her home on Detroit’s east side 10 years ago for $52,000. It’s now worth much less, she says, even though she’s made many improvements to the house. Genelle works for the City of Detroit, but has seen her income go down because of pay cuts and furloughs. Because this winter has been particularly harsh, her heating bills have increased significantly. This combination of less income and higher expenses have caused her to miss four mortgage payments. Penalties and fees also accrued.

Eric helped Genelle get all her paperwork in order before she saw a loan counselor from Bank of America, which holds the mortgage, and which was represented at the event. Genelle hopes to get a loan modification so she can afford the monthly payments and avoid foreclosure.

“My grandchildren love coming to my home and I really want to stay there,” Genelle says.

At the event, Lori Talamantes worked with our counselor Tina Ellis. Lori bought a condo in Dearborn ten years ago for $150,000 and invested another $25,000 in renovations. The condo is now worth about $50,000. Lori retired last November after working for the state for 32 years.

“Some of my friends say that I should just walk away from my place, but I don’t want to do it,” Lori says. “I like where I am and fixed it up the way I wanted.”

Tina is sending Lori’s paperwork to CitiMortgage to see if a loan restructuring package can be worked out.

Ronald Carter, 50, also met with one of our foreclosure counselors at the event. Ronald bought a home on the west side of the city for $42,000 12 years ago. He fell behind on his mortgage last year after being laid off from his factory job with an auto supplier. He has now returned to work.

“Even though my house has lost a lot of its value, it’s worth fighting for because I like my neighborhood and it’s my home,” Ronald says.

The day before the event, foreclosure counselors worked with lenders to review 110 loan modification requests to see what could be done to move them forward.

In addition to Bank of America, Chase, Fannie Mae, Flagstar, Freddie Mac, GMAC, Litton, Ocwen, PNC, Suntrust, and Wells Fargo were present at the event.

FINSC is comprised of nonprofits, government agencies, legal advisers, and organizations from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. The United Way for Southeastern Michigan serves as coordinator for the collaborative. FINSC began in 2008 when 40 organizations came together to create a comprehensive regional approach to assist struggling homeowners and help stabilize neighborhoods.

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